The Jones College men’s and women’s basketball teams came into Brackeen-Wood Gym in Decatur with a combined record of 33-5 overall and 19-1 in MACJC South Division play, but each left with a blemish to their record as the East Central Community College Lady Warriors and Warriors both pulled upsets Monday, Feb. 11.
The East Central Lady Warriors avenged a 28-point loss to the Jones Lady Bobcats in Ellisville back in January with a stunning 74-71 win Monday night over the nation’s No. 5 ranked team.
As if that weren’t enough excitement for the evening, the East Central Warriors took the Jones Bobcats to overtime for the second time this season, but this time were able to hold on for an 84-81 win. Jones won the first meeting 71-69 in overtime back on Jan. 17. The Bobcats beat previously undefeated and No. 7 ranked Pearl River in their most recent outing.
Both the Jones Lady Bobcats and Bobcats were sitting atop their respective MACJC South Division standings when the night began.
The men’s game provided the most thrilling finish of the night, as the Warriors got a tip-in at the buzzer in regulation to tie the game 70-70 and send it to overtime. East Central trailed 70-67 with less than three seconds to play when freshman guard Nick Preyer went to the free-throw line for a one-and-one. Preyer hit the first free throw and intentionally missed the second. On the miss, Warrior freshman guard Haden Boyd (Stringer) came down with the rebound and a jump ball was called with the possession arrow favoring East Central. The ensuing inbounds pass by Preyer was tipped right into the hands of freshman forward Marcus Bates who laid it in to send the game to extra time.
The Warriors would then outscore Jones 14-11 in overtime for the three-point win.
East Central shot nearly 60 percent from the floor in the first half in pulling out to a 40-28 lead. A 15-4 run to end the first half put the Warriors in control at intermission.
Jones used a 10-0 run to start the second half to get back in the game. The Bobcats would eventually take the lead and extend it to 10 points, 67-57, with about two minutes to play before the Warriors would outscore Jones 13-3 down the stretch to send the game to overtime.
Five East Central players scored in double figures in the win, led again by sophomore guard Roti Ware of Morton with 27 points, four rebounds, two assists, and three steals. Preyer (Mobile, Ala., Leflore) had 13 points, six rebounds, and six assists. Freshman forward Dontavious Smith of Terry added 11 points and pulled down a game-high eight rebounds. Bates (Tuscaloosa, Ala., Paul Bryant) added 11 points, while freshman guard Zack Tucker out of West Lowndes had a career-high 10 points.
With the win, the Warriors improved to 10-10 overall and 3-8 in MACJC South Division play. Jones fell to 15-5 and 9-2. Jones fell out of a tie for first place in the South Division, while the Warriors kept their slim playoff hopes alive with three games to play.
The Lady Warriors ended a two-game losing streak with the upset over the highly ranked Jones Lady Bobcats behind 22 points from freshman guard Jariyah Covington out of Starkville.
The game was close throughout the first two periods, with the biggest first-half lead coming at five points for Jones. The Lady Warriors would end the second period with a 6-0 run to take a 38-35 lead at the half.
East Central came out of the locker room in the third period and grabbed a 13-point lead, 53-40. But Jones kept plugging away and used a 10-0 run to pull within 53-50. The Lady Warriors would move back out to an 11-point lead in the final period, and then survived a tense final 40 seconds as Jones made a late run to try and tie the ballgame.
Covington hit four clutch free throws as time was winding down, and sophomore forward Diamond Wraggs (Louisville) and freshman forward KeiMoya Walker (Jackson, Murrah) both blocked three-point shots as the Lady Warriors held on for the three-point upset win as a final desperation half-court shot by the Lady Bobcats was off the mark.
Sophomore guard Breanna Riley of Biloxi added 11 points for the Lady Warriors, while Walker chipped in 10. Sophomore forward Sharan Turner (Gonzales, La., East Ascension) and freshman forward Kimberly Green (Greenwood, Amanda Elzy) both had seven rebounds.
The ECCC Lady Warriors are now 15-5 overall on the season and 6-5 in division play. East Central sits in fifth place in the South Division. The top four teams in each division make state tournament play. The Jones Lady Bobcats dropped to 18-2 overall, but still hold a three-game lead at the top of the division with a 10-1 record.
East Central travels to Meridian on Thursday, Feb. 14, for games at 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
The Warriors and Lady Warriors will play their final home games when Hinds visits Brackeen-Wood Gym on Monday, Feb. 18, for Sophomore Night. The women’s action begins at 5:30 p.m. and the men play at 7:30 p.m.